- Independent Journalism From Today's Armenia
 April 11, 2003 

Tasty TV: Food show has three years of celebrities and cooking

Sedrak Davidyan came to Armenia 21 years ago expecting to finish study at Yerevan Medical University then return to Allepo.

It is neither the time lived here, nor his reason for coming that has made Davidyan one of the country's recognizable minor celebrities.

Rather, far from his training as a psychiatrist, Davidyan is widely known as the host of "Bon Appetite" a twice-weekly 20-minute television show about cooking.

In a society where men hardly visit their own kitchens, the 41-year Davidyan is seen as something of a cooking guru. He is also a popular DJ on Hay FM, where he started working nine years ago.

"Music is the my favorite obsession and correspondingly I got involved with the work on radio with great love," says the DJ.

With a visit by popular singer Shushan Petroysan, "Bon Appetite" debuted on public television in March 2000.

"In the beginning I was thinking that the program would have a small audience as it was culinary. Many people used to criticize saying that how can one talk about different dishes in such hard social conditions," says Davidyan. "But the result was different. People used to stop me in the streets and ask for recipes of different dishes."

Pyschiatrist turned chef, Davidyan.The show is sponsored by Coca-Cola, as is evidence in the many strategically placed insignias throughout the studio kitchen, and not the least of which is the "Coca-Cola" apron spread over Davidyan's considerable girth.

"Bon Appetite" has become popular not just for its topic and its unique place in Armenian television, but because it has become a frequent visiting place of actors, singers, sportsmen.

"Our goal is to show how famous people work in the kitchen," says Davidyan.

During the program a guest presents a recipe, then helps the host prepare it. In cases in which the guest doesn't have a favorite dish, one is provided by Davidyan.

"This program made me rich with all kinds of culinary secrets that my guests tell me during the program. If a guest is a culinary expert then, of course, I learn many things," says Davidyan.

And in general there is a big difference between the kitchen proficiency of his male and female guests. Men, who often have little kitchen experience tend to talk about general issues on the show. Women are more likely to address the topic at hand, cooking.

And who offers more interesting and delicious recipes?

"Sometimes it happens when men offer unique receipts. Movie director Gevorgyan surprised us. He wrapped fish in fish's scale and prepared tolma. It was beautiful and exotic."

In its turn the program often surprises its viewers, especially when men, who usually consider that the kitchen is not their place, appear on the screen wearing aprons.

In summer months the show sometimes moves outside."Armenian men prefer to eat at their homes dishes prepared by their wives or mothers and probably they don't have time. However, there is also an idea of the ethnic approach. You can often hear them saying, 'as if I have nothing else to do but cooking!' " says Davidyan.

Recently Davidyan hosted ethnographer Hranush Kharatyan, who prepared a dish suitable for the days of Armenian lent.

"We prepared mokhokh. You must add yeast-leavened dough to well-boiled grits," Davidyan says. "After it is cooled you can eat it during the whole fasting. It is not tasty at all. Only men must boil it as women are not allowed to do that. During preparing mokhokh special songs and dances are sung and danced."

At the show's conclusion the host and guest sample their work.

"I let my guest feel free in the kitchen. Many people feel shy in front of the cameras. Sometimes it happens when people cannot cook as they talk or vice versa," mentions Davidyan.

Davidyan himself is frank and sincere both on radio and on TV.

On the set of the Coca-Cola cooking show."I never warm to a role. The secret of a program's success lies in frankness of the showman," he says. "The profession of the psychiatrist helps me as well. I understand people pretty quickly. I understand them from the tone of their voice and their facial gesture."

The fact that DJ Sedrak is famous causes several problems for him as well.

"Famous people always feel good. But often you want to be unnoticed. People often ask in the streets joking, 'what are we gonna eat today?'. I've given up going to markets. As soon as I enter a market people invite me to buy their products and, of course, with more expensive prices," says Davidyan.


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  Photo of the week
  Drawing Criticism
Click on the photo above to enlarge

Drawing Criticism

An exhibition of cartoons has been on display at Moscow Cinema since April 1. It is the first such exhibit in 17 years and not everybody is pleased about whose work was included. Among the aggrieved was this group of young cartoonists whose cartoons were not selected. They rallied outside the cinema Monday, wearing their work.



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